After enduring hours of surgery, wounded dog on mend
By TED CZECH
Daily Record/Sunday News
December 29, 2004
Dr. John Lewis called Charlotte Williamson on Nov. 13 and told her
that Alice, her dog, had been shot with an arrow, tipped with a
three-bladed broad head.
About six inches of it was buried in Alice’s face; the rest of the
arrow must have broken off when it slammed into her and she fell,
The arrow struck her dead-center on the bridge of the nose and
traveled downward, fracturing her jaw, Lewis said.
It was about a centimeter from her skull and a major artery.
They would have to operate.
Williamson began to sob.
Not her Alice, her faithful companion.
Alice, her fluffy, goofy, loving mutt.
“I’ve had a boyfriend for six years; I carry a picture of my dog,”
she said last week. “I don’t carry a picture of my boyfriend.”
Charlotte meets Alice
Williamson, 24, of Washington, D.C., visited friend Jim Jiranek at
his family’s Warrington Township farm on Nov. 12.
The two had met earlier in the year at a stop in Sen. John F.
Kerry’s presidential campaign in Fargo, N.D. She set up press offices
and Jiranek assembled wireless communications.
Still smarting after Kerry’s loss, Jiranek suggested William-
son visit him in York County for a party.
Of course, she brought Alice.
Williamson met Alice in the summer of 2003 in her home state of
Texas, while preparing to move to D.C. She was one of many strays her
father, Ralph Williamson, and stepmother, Marsha Huie, had adopted
over the years around their home in San Antonio.
Williamson was in her room and Alice came in. Not knowing if the
stray was properly potty-trained, Williamson told her to go. Then she
heard a scratching at the door. It was Alice.
“I let her back in,” she said. “She slept in the bed with me.”
It was then that Williamson knew this docile dog would be right for
a cramped D.C. efficiency.
Whimpering under a bush
The day was fading to dark when Williamson pulled into Jiranek’s
farm. She stopped her Ford Explorer Sport, opened the hatch and
greeted him with a hug.
Alice jumped out and ran off. Alice loves open spaces and when she
finds one, she goes out for a long romp. But she always comes back.
About 45 minutes later, Williamson stood on Jiranek’s front porch
and called for Alice.
That’s when she heard a whimpering.
She found Alice under a nearby bush, her hair matted by rain and
blood, her right eye swollen shut.
“Jim throws me a white towel that just got soaked in blood,” she
They took her to the Dover Area Animal Hospital on Carlisle Road in
Dover Township. Williamson thought Alice had been mauled by another
dog; the veterinarians believed she had been struck by a vehicle.
Williamson and Jiranek left Alice there and received a call about
two hours later.
The Dover doctors told her they had done all they could do. She’d
have to take Alice to the Matthew J. Ryan Veterinary Hospital in
Two hours later, Williamson and Jiranek were there.
Lewis and fellow surgeon Dr. Steve Mehler operated on Alice Nov. 13
after she was kept in the emergency room overnight.
“It was just shocking to me that such a large piece of arrow was in
her head, and she was standing and wagging her tail,” Lewis said.
Looking at the arrow and its razor-sharp blades, the doctors knew
they could not pull the arrow out the way it had come in. So they made
an incision on the right side of Alice’s neck to pull the arrow
through, Lewis said.
But before they did, they clipped two of the blades off, as close
to the shaft as possible.
A third blade had snapped off when the arrow struck Alice’s jaw,
Lewis said. There was too much swelling around it, so they left it in,
hoping the swelling would subside.
The operation took about four hours, he said.
“She bounced back very rapidly,” Lewis said. “The day after the
surgery, she started to eat for us.”
On Dec. 17, Lewis and Mehler performed a second operation to remove
the third blade.
Despite the success of the two operations, Alice is now blind in
her right eye, Lewis said.
“I was really scared that she was going to lose her personality or
have a dog that was brain dead,” Williamson said. But after the
operation, there was Alice, green eyes gleaming, wagging her tail.
State Game Commission Wildlife Conservation Officer Amy Nabozny
said she wasn’t aware of the shooting until she saw an Associated
Press story several weeks ago.
Archery season, which began on Oct. 2, closed the day after Alice
was shot, she said.
“Possibly, they might have mistaken it for a coyote,” Nabozny said.
“We would look into it. . . . Just to see if it’s anything we can help
But, the problem will be connecting the arrow with the shooter,
especially since there are no witnesses, she said. Williamson said two
people are allowed to hunt on Jiranek’s 100-acre farm, a friend and a
neighbor. Jiranek spoke to both and neither one said they were
responsible, she said.
Williamson has a “fox theory” about what happened. With Alice’s red
coat, and at 40 pounds, not being a very large dog, a hunter could
have mistaken her for a red fox.
But there is another part of her that thinks the bow hunter’s
actions may have been less than accidental.
“I hate to say it was intentional - was a kid just looking in her
pretty little eyes and just up and shot her?” she said.
Part of her is just happy to have Alice back, goofy disposition and
all. The other part wants to take the arrow shaft and blades and have
them examined, to see if she can get a lead on who may have been
“Now I’m starting to think, maybe I should figure this out,” she
Reach Ted Czech at 771-2033 or